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Innovation with Invincibelle

Innovation in Hydrangeas with Invincibelle® Spirit II.

Contributors: Stacey Hirvela

Innovation isn’t just for electronics and automobiles - plants get upgrades, too! Take Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea: we introduced it as the first pink ‘Annabelle’ type hydrangea in 2009. It was a major breakthrough in plant breeding at the time, allowing even cold climate gardeners to finally enjoy big pink mophead blooms. But like most first versions, it wasn’t quite 100% perfect. Dr. Tom Ranney and his students from North Carolina State University devoted themselves to improving their original plant, and after seven additional years of hard work and careful selection, Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea has finally arrived.

So what’s different? Well, for starters, it has stronger stems. If you’ve grown ‘Annabelle’, you know it tends to flop over just as the blooms reach their peak. While Invincibelle® Spirit II wasn’t as floppy as ‘Annabelle,’ it wasn’t as sturdy as we’d ideally have liked either. Invincibelle® Spirit II changes all that, with strong, rigid stems that hold up the blooms even in summer rain storms. Next, the color is an even richer, truer pink than the original, with florets beginning a dark pink-red, unfurling to pure pink, and transforming to jade green. Finally, the plant has a rounder, more landscape-friendly habit that looks great anywhere you plant it.

What hasn’t changed is exciting, too: Invincibelle® Spirit II is an even more powerful rebloomer, so unlike other ‘Annabelle’ type hydrangeas, it blooms in early summer and keeps fresh flowers coming through autumn. It’s also every bit as reliable as the original, blooming each summer without fail, even in chilly USDA zone 3. Most importantly, perhaps, is that when you purchase Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangea, $1 per plant is still donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF). Over $900,000 has been raised so far, funding the life-saving research of scientists across North America.

It’s easy for anyone to be successful growing Invincibelle® Spirit II, but here’s a few tips to ensure a fabulous performance in your yard: plant it where it gets at least 6 hours of sun each day. A bit less in hot climates is okay, but some sunlight is imperative for the plant to develop the strongest stems, the best color, and the most flowers. Give it a good 2-3” (5-8 cm) thick layer of shredded bark mulch to keep the roots happy and growing vigorously. A bit of patience is required, too, as with all shrubs – this plant comes into its own after a few seasons to get established. Finally, in spring, just as the new growth begins to emerge, cut the plant back by about one-third. This builds up a strong woody base to support the stems while also encouraging new growth for lots of summer flowers.

Looking to download version 2.0 of Invincibelle® Spirit hydrangea into your landscape? Find it at your local garden center

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